Welford Road Cemetery Trail App: Launch – and Cake

Welford Banner #1 smallIt’s all mobile device apps here at the Digital Building Heritage Group as we saw the launch this week of the third one we have been involved with recently and the second that has been funded under our recent AHRC Connected Communities, Community Heritage award in 2013. The Welford Road Cemetery Trail App tells the stories of the lives and deaths some of the most famous people buried in this Victorian cemetery in Leicester, UK. From Thomas Cook, the inventor of package holidays, to suffragette Alice Hawkins and murder victim Alice Starkey, whose throat was cut by her husband – all feature in the new Welford Road Cemetery Trail app – some of them under “Gory Deaths”! There are two ways to use the app – firstly visitors can tour the cemetery remotely from the comfort of their own homes using a digital map, and select the graves to discover the stories of the people buried there, how they lived and where they came from. Secondly they can go to Welford Road Cemetery itself, which is about a mile south of Leicester city center, on the A5199 Welford Road and use the app while walking around the impressive monumental sculptures of the cemetery. Architecturally this is an important and often forgotten aspect of Leicester’s built heritage, the richness, diversity and sheer quality of memorial sculptures is quite breath-taking and reveals much about the Victorian preoccupation with memorializing respectability and the artistic endeavor put into creating lasting and beautiful monuments to the dead. We’ve blogged about this before here. There are nearly 200 individual graves and monuments stored in the app with more being added by the Friends of the Welford Road Cemetery for whom it was created. Using a £6100 “All Our Stories” Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant they are documenting and photographing every grave in the cemetery. With about 213,000 people buried there and about 10,000 headstones this is obviously just part of long term process but one which we hope the app will help by giving the valuable efforts of this community heritage group a higher profile and by allowing everyone to virtually explore this wonderful cemetery. Opened in 1849, Welford Road is the city of Leicester’s oldest municipal cemetery and one of the oldest in the country. It is listed as a Grade II site by English Heritage in its register of parks and gardens. The software the app has been created with by Nick Higgett and Thom Corah at De Montfort University can be used to easily create other apps simply by loading different sets of content data, photos and graphics. This approach has already been successfully used for a Blue Plaques App of Wolverhampton which was launched by DMU recently and was also produced for one of our Community Heritage group collaborators under our 2013 AHRC Connected Communities projects. Both apps are currently only available for iPhones and can be downloaded from the Apple store. A cake in the shape of the app cannot be downloaded – you had to be at the launch event this week to get a slice of that action!

Welford 2 Cake #2

About Douglas Cawthorne

Reader in Digital Heritage at De Montfort University.
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